Merkel: Reforms have brought Germany prosperity
8 November 2007, Leipzig - Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday defended her government's reform programme, saying it had brought Germany more prosperity.
8 November 2007
Leipzig - Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday defended her government's reform programme, saying it had brought Germany more prosperity.
Labour market and welfare reforms needed to be continued, she told a conference of Germany's biggest industrial union, IG Metall.
The reforms have seen unemployment drop to its lowest in 12 years and economic growth surge to 2.9 per cent in 2006, but have led to calls from labour organizations for the measures to be softened.
Merkel said she wanted "fair and honest cooperation" with the trade unions, who make up a large chunk of the support for her Social Democratic coalition partner.
"The government is in favour of strong trade unions," she said, even if both sides are not always of the same opinion.
IG Metall earlier this week elected reformer Berthold Huber, 57, as its new chairman earlier this week.
Huber previously served as deputy to outgoing leader Juergen Peters, 63, who did not stand for another four-year term.
With 2.3 million members, IG Metall is the dominant metalworkers' union in Germany, setting the trend in national collective bargaining. It represents both blue and white collar workers in the car and electrical engineering industries.
Huber, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) is considered more pragmatic and flexible than his traditionalist predecessor when it comes to negotiating wage deals.
Subject: German news